Since 1967, ACTFL has supported and advocated for language teachers and other professionals
Founded in 1967 as a small offshoot of the Modern Language Association (MLA), ACTFL quickly became both a resource and a haven for language educators. Since then, the organization has set industry standards, established proficiency guidelines, advocated for language education funding, and connected colleagues at the ACTFL Annual Convention.
Throughout its history, ACTFL has benefited from the outstanding and unselfish leadership of the top professionals in language education.
Now, as we move forward into the 21st century, we are committed to honoring our founders' legacy through service, leadership, and commitment to the profession and language professionals.
Why ACTFL? What's in a name....
In 2020, ACTFL leadership recognized that using the term “foreign” represents an obstacle to progress, sending a message that language learning should be viewed as “strange” or “unfamiliar.” It also brought up questions about how to reconcile Native American languages? ASL? These are certainly not “foreign.”
The ACTFL brand is strong, respected, and admired. So we decided to keep the acronym, ACTFL, and add a tagline that reflects our values and projects a sense of community among those with whom we work.
After much deliberation and reflection, we decided upon “Language Connects”—two words that demonstrate how language acts as a bridge to cultural competence, career readiness, and empathy. It is a more accurate representation of how our organization has already evolved and represents our aspirations to be inclusive and inviting: a global leader in the profession.
The Leaders Who Made A Difference
ACTFL members and staff recognize and appreciate the vitally important contributions that these past leaders have made. We extend a heartfelt "thank you" to these individuals and to everyone who has helped ACTFL along the way.
This list of ACTFL Past Presidents is truly a Hall of Fame of the outstanding teachers and administrators who have made this organization a dynamic, respected voice for languages. Their vision and dedication should be an inspiration for all those who will follow in their footsteps.
These are the people who have assumed the added time and responsibility that Board service requires, providing guidance and the benefit of their experience as educators and administrators in the language profession. Their dedication and hard work have made ACTFL a dynamic, progressive and responsive organization serving the needs of the language profession and individual educators.
These individuals joined ACTFL as it began promoting foreign language learning in the United States. We all owe a debt of gratitude to them for their leadership and vision in this important mission that still continues today. ACTFL is still the only U.S. national organization representing all languages and levels in the foreign language profession.
A History of ACTFL
ACTFL: 50 Years—Moving Forward, Giving Back
To celebrate ACTFL's 50th Anniversary, former ACTFL president Robert M. Terry dove deep into our archives to craft a detailed and compelling history. Filled with photos and original documents, A History of ACTFL tells the story of how ACTFL went from an idea to a reality to the premier association for language educators.